LUMBERTON, SC (WMBF) Agriculture is still a major industry in Robeson County. One way you can see that first-hand is at the State Farmers Market in Lumberton.
WMBF News Reporter Brandon Herring stopped there to get a look at a big new addition.
This is the only place in North Carolina where there's a state farmers market and an agricultural center on the same site.
The location now boasts the nearly complete addition of a new multi-purpose pavilion.
The Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Center opened in Lumberton in 2000. It's a 10,000 square foot meeting space beside a state-run farmers market.
"The farmers market primarily operates during beach travel season if you will - May 1 to September 1," explains Ron Moore of the NC Department of Agriculture.
Use of the space has increased over the years and offerings at the market have grown, but Moore says there's still room for more vendors and visitors. The location near the intersection of Interstate 95 and future Interstate 74 is meant to make it easier for travelers to make a stop here.
"We're hoping with the new building we're getting ready to open, the Pavilion, it will draw even more traffic during that time to the farmers market and it'll grow some more," anticipates Moore.
The new pavilion is a major investment for the area. State lawmakers approved spending 3$3.4 million on it. Nearly $1.3 million came from the Golden Leaf Foundation. The dirt floor makes it the perfect place for horse and livestock shows. There's also a floor cover, making all kinds of events possible.
"Car shows, concerts, rodeos, bull riding," Moore suggests of possible future endeavors.
The arena space is 56,000 square feet. So the hope is it will attract lots of events that need that much space but haven't been able to find it in the area until now.
"In this area this will be a real economic boost," predicts Moore. "There's not a facility of this type in this community."
That's especially true when it comes to large arenas that can hose equestrian events. Right now people in the eastern Carolinas have to travel to Camden or Raleigh for big horse shows. This new facility will change that.
"All the area until you get to those facilities, this will be unique. We're real excited about it, and the community is too. It's a wonderful thing to have opening here real soon," adds Moore.
The grand opening date for the new Pavilion is April 17.
Once it's up and running there is the hope to eventually add horse stalls to this site so the facility can host multi-day events.
Building those stalls would take a combination of private and public money.